My mind is an idealist, my brain is a realist, and my body is a wonderland. – Marissa (and a little John Mayer)
It’s too soon for me to write about the lessons I’ve learned training for this marathon, especially since the marathon hasn’t actually happened yet. But now that I’ve started to taper, which means I’m running less, I have all this extra time on my hands and can’t help but reflect on this experience.
I’ve been thinking about what compels us to take on a new challenge and how we pick what our “next thing” will be. Most of the time, we pick something that we already have an inclination towards or natural talent for. Whether it’s art, music, or fitness, you probably have some innate ability or old muscle memory that you’re tapping into. For me, that has not been the case with running. I’ve spent the better part of this year doing something, working towards something, and practicing something that I am just not naturally talented at. Not fishing for compliments here, it’s just science. I am getting better, but guys, I am not a natural. And, oddly enough, it’s had an unexpected effect on me.
The truth is, I’m humbled. And trust me, no one has ever described me this way. I’m one of those lucky people who, in my own head, think I’m pretty awesome and walk this planet with an abundance of confidence. So to take part in an activity that, every time I do it, I know I’m not the best or fastest or, quite frankly, even very good at it, it’s humbling. When I’m running, even at my fastest, I get passed. A lot. I’ve been passed by young children, elderly people, an amputee, and even a woman on crutches recovering from hip surgery (do you know how painful it is to propel yourself forward on crutches?!). But every time that happens, instead of dwelling on my performance or lack thereof, I think “Wow, that person is rocking it! Good for them.” Then I tell them. Because that’s what humble people do…I think. I’m still new to this.
And I’m humbled every Saturday when I’m out with my running group. There’s a mom of five who has run several marathons, has the nicest calves I’ve ever seen, and is peppier in the morning than any person has a right to be. There’s the chef who works into the wee hours of the night but still gets up early for our runs, then goes to work afterwards while I spend the entire day napping. There’s the new mom who is just getting back into running after years away, finding time to run with the jogging stroller before work to train for the Chicago marathon. And there’s our group leader who somehow convinces us that it’s a good idea to get up at the crack of dawn to run on a Saturday morning. She manages to stay positive and encouraging for hours on end as I whine like a child trying to get out of PE.
Just when I’m coming to terms with my new humbleness, one of the faster runners from my group who I hadn’t met before, and who looks like a runner with that slim frame and long, gazelle-like legs, asks how far I plan to run that day. I audibly sigh at what’s ahead and tell her “Today is 22 miles for me.” She looks at me in awe, like I’m the most amazing specimen she’s ever seen. “I’m only running 6, I can’t imagine running any more than that! You’re amazing!”
…aaaaaand I’m back. She’s right, I am amazing! And so confident! I’m Wonder Woman! And yes, I completed every step of that 22 mile run.
Now, let’s just get this marathon done so I can have my weekends back.